Thursday, February 9, 2012

El Chalten, Argentina 5-8 Feb 2012

Fitz Roy

El Chalten is 2h30m from El Calafate. This town exists for its gateway for trekkers to Mt. Fitz Roy (3405m) and Cerro Torres (3102m). The most beautiful of all peaks in the Andes range. (In my point of view)Mt Fitz Roy remains among the most technically challenging mountain to climb due to its sheer granite faces and treacherous weather condition. The Glacier National Park is trekkers’ heaven with well marked trail and easy access from El Chalten. On top of all access to the park is free! 

Our bus stops us at the National Park office where everyone was given a briefing on rule and regulations of the park, trekking routes, weather forecast and a map. We were told that weather has been bad for last couple of days but tomorrow forecast will be a good. Luck is on our site again. :-) This we really need it because Mt Ritz Roy is always hidden from the cloud, only on a good day we could see the gigantic peak. We are praying hard! 

We arrived at this charming town surrounded by cliff, mountain, glacier, river and lake. I fell in love at first sight! There is only one main street that borders by hostels, restaurants, tour agency and souvenir shops.

The weather at El Chalten is much colder than anywhere else we’ve been, probably because it is surrounded by glaciers and constant strong wind. After checking into our hostel, we went to the bus terminal to sort out our tickets to the airport and we bought our shuttle ticket to Hostel El Pilar where we are going to start our trekking the next day. We could only leave with the 9:30am bus as the first one has been fully booked. The trek from Hostel El Pilar is supposed to be better as we will not take the same route to and back. We were warned that the wind is strong and it will be very cold. We have packed enough food for the day and all the warm clothes we had in our backpack to hike to the foot of Mt Fitz Roy. 

Piedras Blancas GlacierWe woke up with sunshine and blue sky. :-D We could even see Mt Fitz Roy from town. Wow! We were really lucky! We got picked up around 9:45am and arrived at Hostel El Pilar at 10:20am. The first 2 hours trek was along the river in the forest, we have a panoramic view of Mt. Fitz Roy, Piedras Blancas Glacier and all the mountain range around it, and it was incredible! We could hardly keep our jaw close! We took photos after photos wishing we could bring this remarkable piece of nature back home.

We arrived at the Poincenot camp site around noon, we took a break for lunch before we proceed to climb the 1.5km steep uphill to Lago de los Tres at the base of Mt. Fitz Roy. The trail is exposed to strong wind, at times we have to squad down and hold on to some big rock around us. It took us an hour to reach, as soon as we climbed over the hill, we were blown away by the beauty of what was in front of us. The little struggle up the steep hill is all worth it! Another 500m trek brings us down to Lago de los Tres and the cliff side over viewing Lake Sucia. I would say this is the ultimate of all peaks and mountains. Gosh! It is so gorgeous!

Lago de los Tres

On the way down, weather starts to change, clouds covered the peak and we had strong wind blowing from our back, thanks to that we made it back to town in 2 hours but the last one hour downhill was a bit tough as our feet started to complain. We were contented for this perfect day! 

The weather on the next day was awful, it was cloudy, rain and windy. We could not do the 6 hours trek to Laguna Torre but who cares, we have seen the best! :-) We have to leave something for our next trip isn’t it? I stayed in the hostel whole day looking at the photos over and over again, we were just so damn lucky.

At night after dinner, we talked about eating the blue berry-El Calafate, the guy from the hostel showed Inge to a Calafate tree just outside the hostel and we ate some off the tree. It was delicious! That wasn’t enough, we went looking for Calafate ice cream, only 300m away from the hostel. Hoping that will definitely bring us back to El Chalten. :-)

This was my last stop at Patagonia, what a great way to say good bye. Thank you Patagonia for giving me such wonderful memory and experience!

Hostel Albegue Lo de Trivi– AP70 for a 3 beds dorm with wifi

Shuttle to El Pilar Hostel – AP50
Bus from El Chalten to El Calafate Airport – AP90
Flight from El Calafate to Buenos Aires – US$278.10
Airport Tax – AP38


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